Guinea-Bissau arrests ex-navy captain linked to drug trafficking over failed coup attempt

Guinea-Bissau President Umaru Sissoko Embalo on Thursday accused the former Guinean navy chief of drug links and his two associates of being behind a failed coup attempt in the West African country on Feb. 1.

Heavily armed men attacked government buildings in the capital, Bissau, while Embalo was chairing a cabinet meeting.

Embalo, 49, later told reporters that he survived a five-hour gun battle unhurt and that 11 people were killed in the fighting.

On Thursday, he named former Rear Admiral Jose Americo Bobo na Chuto, who was navy chief in the early 2000s, among three men he said were arrested over the attack.

He said the other two were Chami Yala, also a former officer, and Babis Djimi, and said the three had been arrested.

Embalo linked the attack on government buildings to the transatlantic drug trade.

Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony, is a hub for cocaine smuggling from Latin America to Africa.

Embalo claimed that “the hands holding the guns are people with connections to the big drug cartels.”

The three men named by the president were arrested in April 2013 on a boat off the West African coast by undercover agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

DEA officers posing as smugglers said the men tried to negotiate a deal to import cocaine into Guinea-Bissau and then re-route it to North America and Europe.

Jose Americo Bobo na Choto, described by the DEA as a drug baron, was sentenced to four years in prison in the United States, while Chamei Yala and Babis Djimi were sentenced to five and six and a half years, respectively.

The three returned to Guinea-Bissau after their release.


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